Lydia Heye ’19 | University of Portland

Lydia Heye ’19

Legal Fellow, Trustees for Alaska

Major: Political Science

lydiaheye-resized.jpg“When I came to UP, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but quickly realized my passions were elsewhere. I reached out to my advisor who suggested I switch my major from biology to political science. I immediately fell in love with the field and the incredible faculty at UP, who advised me in my junior year to consider law school, given my passion for racial and social justice.

While at UP I took ‘Perspectives on Social Justice,’ which opened my mind to a new approach to environmentalism that addressed the disproportionate impact that environmental harms have on communities of color. Then, during my first year of law school, I went to an event on Indigenous sovereignty put on by the Environmental Law Society at UCLA. As I listened to activists and attorneys speak on issues ranging from Standing Rock to Mauna Kea, I realized I wanted to be an environmental justice attorney. But if it wasn’t for that class at UP, I am not sure I would have been open to exploring environmental justice.

I’ve now had the privilege of working on a wide range of environmental issues, interning at a law firm, a nonprofit, and most recently the U.S. Department of Justice in their Environment and Natural Resources Division. I've now graduated from UCLA School of Law and am working as a legal fellow focused on environmental issues at a nonprofit in Alaska.

I definitely encourage all students to pursue academic areas they are genuinely excited about. I’m very grateful to my first-year advisor for encouraging me to switch my major.”

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